This is a play that I picked up for a few dollars at Half Price Books because my advisor brought up Churchill while I was working on my Performance Theory certificate at Rutgers, as she's an author who has tackled the idea of trauma from a critical and theoretical standpoint.
This play is wild. First of all, thank you Caryl for teaching me about the Romanian Revolution from such an intimate lens. Weirdly enough, I am in the middle of writing a performance piece for our exhibition on the 21st and 22nd of December in Berlin, which aims to explore the history behind the capitalist holiday we now call Christmas.
Speaking of capitalism and Christmas, this play is on point. The massacre in Romania, which lead to the Revolution, took place on the 21st of December, 1989 - the same year as the fall of the Berlin wall and many other Soviet bloc countries. Deaths are estimated between 689-1290, when the military of Romania decided to drive tanks into the protestors and to shoot at random. The protest was a reaction, primarily of young students, against the communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who had been systemically removing personal and political freedoms from the Romanian people as well as impoverishing them in the process of glorifying himself, and who was subsequently executed on Christmas Day, 1989, after the secret service and the military turned against him and joined the people in the Revolution.
Today, I am stressed about the upcoming US election and the state of affairs in the United States, but reading a play like this really reminds me of what a freedom it really is to walk down the street unafraid to go to prison indefinitely, to call a friend and talk about our asshole president and his capitalist cronies, to critique the fascist rhetoric and regimes. However, at the same time, watching the climate in America, this is a play that scares me. This is a play that gets at the heart of the trauma experienced by individual human beings in the face of fascism.
Things I didn't understand are the vampire, the dog, and the angel - these supernatural elements took away from the gravity of the play for me.
Something that I really enjoyed was the overlapping dialogues, the singing, the dream scene, and the use of translation as well as the juxtaposition of the American culture through the character of Lucia and Hungarian culture through Radu and Tomas.
I have never seen the play staged, but it seems like a difficult one. In the writing, I can tell that many decisions were made naturally among the group that orchestrated/created the piece together - that are hard to imagine in my head while I am reading it.